While I have always respected Chantal Hébert’s opinion, whether written in the Toronto Star or expressed on the CBC, she lost my support in her commentary on the official languages act revision, to be presented soon to parliament. I have never before seen her use bias for facts.
But when she denies that Quebec Bill 96 is an attack on English language rights in Quebec, she is wrong. And should the federal liberal government enshrine that tribalism in federal law, they will drive a wedge in the liberal party that might never be healed.
And, yes, what you see in Quebec’s Bill 96 is tribalism. It cannot be racism because francophones and anglophones are mostly of the same race.
What needs to be understood about the current language laws in Quebec is that the Quebec assembly is trying to put the English language in stasis in Quebec. The law, as it stands, puts a cap on English education. The Quebec government refuses to allow freedom of choice. It refuses to allow anything other than French in the working environment.
It is too bad that Chantal keeps her focus on Quebec but when she challenges the language laws in the rest of the country, I sincerely believe she is wrong. The lady has probably never been in the kitchen of a good Chinese restaurant. Nobody in the rest of Canada cares what language is used in preparing Peking Duck, as long as the result is tasty.
I was once asked to accept a government contract for a year, reporting to a federal government facility in Laval, Quebec. It was convenient for me but I was somewhat surprised when I reported for duty the first time and found that the language of the facility in Laval was, understandably, French. Nobody had thought to ask me if I spoke French. And, to be fair, I am a neophyte in French. While I enjoy the language and have spent considerable money on individual tutoring, my French language skills would embarrass an eight-year-old. I got through all the meetings that year by always sitting beside a person whom I knew was bilingual and checking periodically on the more obscure words being spoken. There were always some amused looks though when I tried to answer questions in French. While it was a fun and worthwhile experience, I had to turn down the offer of a contract renewal.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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